Vervolg op eerdere blogs over de heiligen, die op de muren van de tempel Bhutabhrteshwarnath mandir staan afgebeeld. Aaradhakananda, een bewoner van de ashram, beschrijft regelmatig op zijn Facebook-pagina het leven van een van deze heiligen. Een unieke kans om Vaishnava heiligen en Alvars (heilige poëten) te leren kennen en over de diepe kracht van overgave te lezen.

Sant Tukaram (तुकाराम) (c.1608 – c.1650), Shri Tukaram, in de volksmond ook “Tuka” (तुका) genoemd, was een zeventiende-eeuwse Marathi-dichter en heilige uit India, verbonden aan de Bhakti-beweging van Maharashtra. Tukaram was een toegewijde van Vitthala (een vorm van Heer Krishna), de hoogste God. Hij wordt vooral door de Varkari gemeenschap vereerd. Tukarams poëzie wordt algemeen erkend als het hoogtepunt van de Bhagawat-traditie die met Namdev begon. Na een bezoek van Namdev en Heer Vitthala Zelf in een droom, begon Tukaram abhanga’s (religieuze poëzie) te schrijven. Zijn religieuze activiteiten stuitte op verzet van de Brahmins, die hem vervolgden. De Mantra Gita, een vertaling van de Gita in de abhanga-vorm, die de Gita vanuit een Bhakti-perspectief interpreteert, wordt aan Tukaram toegeschreven, evenals meer dan 4600 abhanga’s (religieuze gedichten). Tukaram stond voor een leven van toewijding aan God en liefdevolle dienst aan de mensheid, boven het uitvoeren van religieuze riten en ceremonies. In het achtenveertigste jaar van zijn leven, in 1649, verdween Tukaram. Sommigen zeggen dat hij zijn vrouw op een ochtend vertelde dat hij naar Vaikuntha (het Goddelijk Verblijf) ging, maar zijn vrouw lachte hem uit. Hij ging de heuvel op en wachtte op Vithoba. Tegen die tijd had het nieuws zich rond Dehu verspreid en hadden de mensen zich rond de heuvel verzameld en wachtten op de Goddelijke gebeurtenis. Volgens ooggetuigenverslagen kwam er een groot voertuig uit de lucht tevoorschijn en Vithoba kwam naar voren. Ooggetuigen haastten zich naar Tukarams huis en deelden zijn vrouw mee dat Tukaram op weg was naar Vaikuntha, de verblijfplaats van God. Zijn vrouw rende naar de heuvels, maar zag hem opstijgen in de Viman (vliegend voertuig).

Saint Tukaram

Namdeo (c 1270–1350) was a poet-sant from Maharashtra, India. He was born on 26th October, 1270, about 200 years before of Guru Nanak and 130 years before Saint Kabir’s birth. His father’s name was Dama Seth and his mother’s Gonai. He inherited the profession of tailoring and cloth printing from his ancestors. It would appear that Namdeo was born in a village called Narsi Vamni, situated either near Karad in District Satara of Maharashtra, or in District Prabhani of Marathawad. However, some believe that he was born in Pandharpur in Maharashtra, as his father was a staunch devotee of the idol of Lord Vitthal installed there. Lord Kishna is worshipped as Lord Vitthal in Pandharpur.No account of the life of Namdev would be complete without a mention of Janabai. She was a maid-servant in the household of Namdev. Nothing is known of her life except that she was Namdev’s maid-servant. She herself forgot sometimes that she had an existence apart from being the maid-servant of Namdev. In several poems on devotion which she has left behind, she describes herself as ‘Nam’s maid-servant’ or ‘Namdev’s Jani’. She was one of the closest followers of Namdev and had no ambition other than to serve Namdev and sing the praises of the Lord Vithoba. For instance, in one of her poems she sings:

“Let me undergo as many births in this world as You please, but grant that my desires are fulfilled. They are that I see Pandharpur and serve Namdev in every birth. I do not mind if I am a bird or a swine, a dog or a cat, but my conditions are that in each of these lives, I must see Pandharpur and serve Namdev. This is the ambition of Namdev’s maid.”

Saint Namdev uit Pandharpur

Tyagaraja (Telugu: శ్రీ త్యాగరాజ; d. 1848) was one of the most important composers of Carnatic music. He is regarded as one of the “trinity” of Carnatic music composers, along with Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri. He was a devotee of Rama.

Sri Tyagaraja, the most celebrated Carnatic Music saint was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama. Tyagaraja lived to the full extent that God realization is best achieved through Nadopasana (music with devotion). His songs are filled with an intimate devotion to Rama, all through revealing his deep understanding of the tenets of the Vedas and Upanishads.

Tyagaraja started his musical training under Sri Sonti Venkataramanayya at an early age. Tyagaraja regarded music as a way to experience the love of God. His objective while performing music was to repeat the name of God and contemplate on His Divine Pastimes, thereby reducing the vices of the mind, not to display his mastery over Raga and Tala. He had to struggle quite a bit to compose music in which Bhava, that is, emotion, was crowned. (He always felt that Bhava was not to be compromised for Raga and Tala). The legend goes that he was blessed by the divine sage Narada with great musical knowledge.

Being a great devotee of Lord Rama, the only things that mattered to Tyagaraja were Music and Bhakti. In fact, they were synonymous to him. “Is there a sacred path than music and bhakti?”. “O Mind, salute the gods of the seven notes”. “The knowledge of music, O Mind, leads to bliss of Union with the Lord”. Music was to him the meditation on the Primordial Sound:”I bow to Sankara, the embodiment of Nada, with my body and mind. To Him, the essence of blissful Samaveda, the best of the vedas, I bow. To Him who delights in the seven swaras born of His five faces I bow”.

Saint Tyagaraja Swamigal

Sri Rupa appeared in East Bengal, the son of a pious brahmana named Kumaradeva along with his brothers, Sanatana and Anupama. The three brothers later moved to Ramakeli where they were solicited by the powerful Nawab Hussein Shah to join his government. Due to their association with the Muslim king, Rupa and Sanatana became known by the Muslim names Dabir Khas and Sakir Mallik.

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Ramakeli, the three brothers petitioned the Lord to alleviate their suffering condition and grant them His mercy. Mahaprabhu pacified them and told them that Krsna would deliver them very soon.

Not long afterwards, an intense feeling of renunciation awakened in the hearts of Rupa and Sanatana. Finally Rupa resigned from the Nawab’s service and sent messengers to Puri to find out when Mahaprabhu planned to travel to Vrndavana. When the messengers returned with the news that Mahaprabhu had left already for Vrndavana, Rupa wrote to Sanatana and requested him to extricate himself from the Nawab’s service as soon as possible and meet him in Prayaga. Rupa and Anupama then traveled to Prayaga where they met Sri Caitanyadeva who was staying at the house of a South Indian brahmana. While in Prayaga, Mahaprabhu taught Sri Rupa the esoteric teachings of Vaisnava philosophy at the Dasavamedha Ghata and requested him to go to Vrndavana to uncover Sri Krsna’s pastime places and write literatures on bhakti. On the order of Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami traveled to Vrndavana and stayed for one month. On the way to Puri, where they were to meet the Lord again, Anupama left his body on the banks of the Ganga. Arriving in Puri, he was greeted by the Lord as well as Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami, Raya Ramananda and the other associates of the Lord. All the Lords devotees considered that he was the beneficiary of the Lord’s special mercy, thus he knew the heart of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All the devotees delighted in hearing his divine compositions. Returning to Sri Radhadamodar Mandir, Vrindavan to carry out the order of the Lord, he was joined by his elder brother Sanatana Goswami whom he had not seen for more than a year.

Saint Rupa Goswami

Unlike other Varkaris, Savata (13th century) was never able to visit the shrine because he was always tending to his plants. It is believed that the Lord revealed himself to Savata, in all his glory and resplendence. That the gardener became witness to the Supreme Reality, the all-encompassing and spirit-pervading existence, is evident in his mystical couplets, called Abhanga, of which, 40 verses have survived. Literally, Abhanga is an unbroken verse. Metaphysically, it implies materialisation of spiritual experience in a specific poetic form.

Savata’s Abhangas are devoid of sexual imagery or metaphysical subtleties, but they impact the mind and touch the heart. His outpourings, though simple and straightforward, provide spiritual insights. Both Sant Jnaneswar and Sant Namdev recognised the descent of Divine Grace on Savata. Like Hanuman who had laid bare his chest to Sita to show that Rama resided in his heart, Savata is believed to have torn off his stomach with a gardening tool to convince sceptics that Vithala resided inside him. Savata’s spiritual propensities did not make him a recluse. He lived like a householder. The death of his parents and son at an early age revealed to him the transitory nature of worldly existence.At the end of his life he took sanjeevana samadhi, at his village, 65km from Pandarpur.

Saint Savata Malin uit Pandharpur

Kanhopatra or Kanhupatra was a daughter of a rich prostitute and spent her childhood in the palatial house of her mother, served by several maids. In course of time, she became a talented dancing damsel and melodious singer. Her beauty was compared to that of an apsara (heavenly nymph) like Menaka. Her mother suggested to Kanhopatra to visit the Muslim king of Bidar, who would adore her beauty by gifting her lot of money and jewelry, but Kanhopatra flatly refused. Kanhopatra, however was firm and stealthily fled to Pandharpur disguised as a maid taking with her a vina, a musical instrument in her hand, with the help of her aged maid Hausa who took her to Pandharpur. She withdrew from society. She sang and danced at the Vithoba temple, and cleaned the temple premises twice a day. While in the temple, Kanhopatra composed ovi-metered abhanga poems dedicated to Lord Vithoba. Her abhangas present herself as a woman deeply devoted to Vithoba, and plead for him to save her from the unbearable bondage of her profession. Hearing tales of Kanhopatra’s beauty, the Badshah ordered her to be his concubine. She also flatly refuted the overtures of this Muslim king. When she refused, the king sent soldiers to get her by force. Kanhopatra took refuge in the Vithoba temple. The soldiers besieged the temple and threatened to destroy it if Kanhopatra was not handed over to them. Though other theories are there, based on popular tradition, Kanhopatra got merged with the Lord of Vithoba by way of marriage, something which Kanhopatra longed for. She was a 15th-century Marathi saint-poet, venerated by the Varkari sect of Hinduism.

Saint Kanhupatra uit Pandharpur

Rāmdās (1606-1682) was a prominent saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in Mahārāshtra, India. Samarth Ramdas was a great devotee of Hindu Gods Hanumān and Rāma . He is credited with shaping the personality of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and hence ensuring that the Hindu Sanskriti and in Western India was protected from the ravages of the Mughal empire.

Ramdas swami was born in a Deshastha Rugvedi Brāhman family to Suryāji , Rānu Bāi (राणूबाई) Thosar (ठोसर) in Jāmb (जांब) in Jālna District (जालना जिल्हा) of Maharashtra on Ram Navami, 1530 (रामनवमी, चैत्र शुद्ध ९, १५३०) according to “Shāliwāhan Shak” (शालिवाहन शक) calendar. His given name was Nārāyan (नारायण). He was devotee of God “Ram” and that’s why he was named as Ramdas (At age 24, he was named as Rāmdās.)

Since his childhood, Ramdas had an inclination toward metaphysical contemplation and religiosity. When he was eight, his father died; and at age 12, his mother arranged his marriage to her brother’s daughter. However, he wanted to pursue a monasitc life, and so just as the wedding ceremony was proceeding, he ran away before the marriage vows were exchanged. During Hindu marriage ceremony, the last word which seals the marriage is “Saavdhan” meaning, ‘be careful’, Swami ramdas interpreted that word to mean that he had to be careful and not get entangled in the binds of Maya, Illusion and seek Self realization.

One recorded incident from his childhood is as follows, He was walking in the dark and under a tree bumped into something, after getting a light he saw that it was a local villager who was arbitrarily hanged by the Mughal rulers. This incident fired in him a desire to be Free and in all aspects of the word, freedom from foreign rule and also freedom from Illusion (Maya).

For the next twelve years, Ramdas devoted himself to study Hindu religious books, meditation, and prayers in a place named Panchawati (पंचवटी) –near Nāshik (नािशक)– on the banks of Godāwari (गोदावरी) river. Ramdas swami was a gifted composer. He produced considerable lucid and effective literature in verse form in Marathi.

Saint Ramarth Ramdas uit Sajjangad

Annamacharya, The Saint-Composer was born in the year 1408 According to Telugu “PANCHANGAM”(calendar).

He composed 32,000 Sankeertanas (devotional songs) and dedicated them to Lord Venkateswar.Saint Annamacharya is the first ”VAGGEYAKARA” (a person who can compose lyrics,music and sing) of Telugu Literature.

He sang only for the pleasure of the Almighty and to convey the message for the upliftment of mankind,unmindful of materialistic gains. One day the king of his district, impressed by Annamayas sweet devotional compositions,  asks him to compose a song for himself. Annamaya denies and the kings gets angry and puts him in jail. By the power of God’s Name, the chains brake and the king realizes his mistake, asking for forgiveness. Annamacharya leaves the royal court for Thirumala,the court of VENKATESHWARA.Annamacharya introduces many “SEVAS” (services)” to the”Lord VENKATESHWARA” at “Tirumala Temple” and propagated His philosophy & glory through his “SANKEERTANAS”.

Saint Annamacharya uit Tirumala